The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenseman Anton Stralman and center Brian Boyle each to a multiyear contract Tuesday on the opening day of NHL free agency. They also signed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year contract.
Stralman and Boyle played significant roles for the 2014 Eastern Conference champion New York Rangers. Stralman signed a five-year contract; Boyle got a three-year deal.
The Lightning did not disclose financial terms, but multiple media reports placed the total value of Stralman's contract at $22.5 million, an average annual value of $4.5 million. Boyle's contract has an AAV of $2 million.
Boyle, 29, had six goals and 18 points in 82 regular-season games for the Rangers. He scored three goals and had eight points in 25 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and was the Rangers' best center on faceoffs during the Final against the Los Angeles Kings.
"He allows us to get bigger," general manager Steve Yzerman said during a conference call when asked about the 6-foot-7 center. "He's a good, solid defensive forward, a good competitor, a good penalty-killer. He's able to replace the hole we left when we traded Nate Thompson."
The Lightning sent Thompson to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday in exchange for two draft picks.
"I like [Boyle's] size, the way he competes, the fact that he can play center or wing," Yzerman said.
Stralman, 27, was one of the most consistent players for the Rangers during the playoffs and played well against the Kings in the Stanley Cup Final. He had one goal and 13 points in 81 regular-season games last season but is a strong possession player and was considered one of the top free agents available by those who monitor advanced statistics.
Stralman had a Corsi-for percentage in 2013-14 of 56.5 percent despite facing tough assignments, in terms of zone starts and quality of competition. He had similar possession numbers in 2012-13, but against easier competition. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault trusted Stralman against better players in 2013-14 and was rewarded with excellent play.
"I think it's a great opportunity," Stralman said when asked why he signed with the Lightning. "They have a very interesting group of players. It seems like each year they make strides, and I thought it would be great to be a part of that."
Stralman began the 2011-12 season without an NHL contract after going to training camp on a tryout deal with the New Jersey Devils, and the Rangers signed him in early November. He has 18 goals and 112 points in 394 NHL games, and Yzerman is confident he can contribute at both ends.
"He's a good skater," Yzerman said. "He's responsible defensively. I saw him play in Europe before he came to North America, and he was more of an offensive defenseman. He's transitioned into a really stable, solid [player]; he skates very well. I think there's more offense to his game."
Nabokov's one-year deal is worth $1.55 million, according to multiple reports.
The 38-year-old goaltender was 15-14-8 in 40 games for the New York Islanders with a 2.74 goals-against average, a save percentage of .905 and four shutouts. He has an NHL record of 350-221-98 with a .912 save percentage, a 2.43 GAA and 59 shutouts with the Islanders and San Jose Sharks.
"We had a list of goaltenders, and we felt we could get one of them," Yzerman said. "At the end of the day, we got the one with the most experience."
Tampa Bay signed forward Mike Blunden and re-signed forward Mike Angelidis to one-year, two-way contracts. Financial terms were not released, but ESPN.com reported Blunden will make $600,000 in the NHL, $200,000 if he's in the AHL.
Blunden, 27, had no points, a minus-2 rating and five penalty minutes in seven games with the Montreal Canadiens last season. He had 18 goals and 37 points in 68 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Canadiens' American Hockey League team.
Angelidis, 29, had 12 goals, 33 points and 161 penalty minutes in 75 games with the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning's AHL affiliate, in 2013-14. He had one goal in six games with the Lightning during the 2011-12 season and was scoreless in one appearance in 2012-13.
"We have two goaltenders, eight defensemen and 12 forwards," he said. "I don't see us doing a whole lot more in free agency. Anything else we can do with our club, we'll likely have to do through trades."
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